University of Iowa students petition for administration to take pay cuts before faculty

Following a university decision to lay off 15 employees, UI students say the administration must take pay cuts before laying off faculty and staff members.


Jenna Galligan

The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, March 12, 2020.

Lillian Poulsen, News Reporter

In response to the recent nonrenewal of several faculty and staff contracts across campus, University of Iowa students have started a petition calling for members of the administration to take pay cuts before faculty and staff do.

UI student Hannah Zadeh started the petition last week, which highlights the salaries of President Bruce Harreld and former College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Steve Goddard, which are each over $250,000.

As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, Harreld will take a 50-percent pay cut to his base salary, effective August 1. A one-time allocation of $270,416 from the salary will go to the UI’s Student Emergency Fund.

The UI announced Thursday that Goddard will be replaced as dean of the liberal-arts college by Sara Sanders, the associate dean for strategic initiatives. Sanders will receive an annual salary of $305,000 until a permanent dean is appointed.

The contracts of fifteen faculty members were selected for non-renewal in June, after the liberal-arts college was asked to identify $15 million in budget cuts, as previously reported by the DI. In a campus-wide email from June, Harreld said the UI expects to lose $70 million due to the pandemic.

The petition calls on UI administration to take pay cuts before laying off or cutting the salaries of any faculty and staff members.

RELATED: 15 faculty members laid off within College of Liberal Arts and Sciences amid budget cuts

Because the decision to remove faculty members came before the administration’s decision to take pay cuts, UI sophomore Nolan Hanson said students worry that administration doesn’t value faculty and staff as much as it should.

“People like Bruce Harreld and the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and even the coach of the football team, Coach Ferentz, have [had] really high income compared to educators for a long time,” Hanson said. “That money could be redirected towards staff and could potentially keep teachers in their critical jobs, instead of giving them the boot.”

Students believe the administration needs to do more to protect faculty and staff members, Hanson said, especially those who are more susceptible to the coronavirus.

“You led these people to believe they were going to have jobs in a pandemic and health insurance in a pandemic,” said UI senior Jocelyn Roof. “Then you took away the jobs and the health insurance.”

Students are calling on the university to show their support for their employees, Hanson said. Faculty and staff need to have job security and access to affordable healthcare, he said, especially during the pandemic.

RELATED: Iowa regents approve fiscal 2021 budget with decreased state funding, tuition revenue amid COVID-19 pandemic

“I think they should release a statement along the lines of saying they’re not going to cut so much money out of low-income faculty and staff,” Hanson said. “If the university comes up and says they’re not going to cut their money any further, then that would be a great help to them and give them some security.”

UI junior Steven Vlahakis said he believes administration should rehire the employees and guarantee job security and affordable health care.

Vlahakis said students aren’t only worried about what this means for faculty and staff, but also what it means for their quality of education.

“It’s going to be super harmful to the professor and student dynamic, especially in smaller classroom settings,” Vlahakis said. “If they’re going to be laying off professors or furloughing them for a couple of weeks, it really interrupts that dynamic.”

Following this decision, students are questioning the values of the university administration, Roof said. The UI wouldn’t be laying off employees during a pandemic if its administration really cared, she said.

“It’s ridiculous to me to think about people losing all of their livelihood, their entire salary, and their health care benefits,” Roof said. “If you’re going to kick people off their health care, if they’re not going to have any salary at all, I think you need to be making more of a sacrifice. If this is a place that really values its employees and values the Hawkeye family, you wouldn’t lay people off when the budget gets a little bit tight.”